Brian Schmidt granted $1 million for the SkyMapper telescope

Press Release - 30 March 2012

Australian Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt will continue his ground-breaking work mapping the southern sky thanks to a $1 million extension of his Australian Laureate Fellowship.

Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, today announced the funding extension to Professor Schmidt's Australian Research Council (ARC) Australian Laureate Fellowship ahead of the Prime Minister's Science and Engineering and Innovation Council meeting.

"This additional funding will allow Professor Schmidt to undertake world-class research while continuing his important role as a strong advocate of Australian science," Senator Evans said.

"The Laureate Fellowships are the most prestigious fellowships awarded by the Australian Government and Professor Schmidt is very deserving, not only because of his leading role in science research, but also for his hard work in mentoring up-and-coming researchers."

The extended funding from the Gillard Government will allow Professor Schmidt to continue leading his Australian Laureate Fellowship project 'Mining the Southern Sky' which began in 2009.

Professor Schmidt and his team are using the state-of-the-art SkyMapper telescope to undertake the most comprehensive survey of the southern sky.

"Professor Schmidt's work will help Australian astronomers better understand our galaxy and get a clear picture of the history of the universe, in turn improving our understanding of the world we live in" Senator Evans said.

"This research is set to make significant headway in astronomy research, from understanding objects like Pluto to discovering the first black hole in the distant universe."

The extended Australian Laureate Fellowship will allow Professor Schmidt to mentor his team of talented early career researchers for an additional year.

"All Australian Laureate Fellowships include funding to support a team of postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers," Senator Evans said.

"Professor Schmidt is a talented research leader and his role in mentoring today's early career researchers is helping develop tomorrow's high-skilled research workforce."

The $1 million funding will continue Professor Schmidt's fellowship for an additional year to 2015.

For more information on the ARC Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme, visit www.arc.gov.au.

For more information on the SkyMapper project, visit www.mso.anu.edu.au/skymapper.